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Explaining the Public Distrust of Police in the Newest European Union Countries

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science and Management Volume: 14 Issue: 3 Dated: Autumn 2012 Pages: 219-245
Viviana Andreescu; Deborah G. Keeling
Date Published
27 pages
This article examines the public perception of police in Romania and Bulgaria.
Based on recent cross-sectional data from the European Social Surveys Round 4 (ESS4), in Romania and Bulgaria, the average levels of confidence in the country's police appear to be much lower than in most European Union states. However, Romanians and Bulgarians tend to trust the local police more than they trust their country's legal system, the main political parties, the country's parliament and the national government. Using ESS4 data collected from national representative samples of Romanians and Bulgarians, the present quantitative analysis attempts to assess the relative influence on attitudes toward the police of subjective (eg, perceptions of important legal and political institutions; interpersonal trust; perceived sense of safety; perceived social and economic exclusion) and objective individual-level factors, such as sociodemographic characteristics, residency in capital cities (Bucharest and Sofia) and experiences with victimization. Results show that, in both countries, institutional trust is the most important predictor of public attitudes toward the police. The potential impact of real and perceived recent crime trends and the latent effects of economic, political, legal and historical conditions on public discontent with the police in developing democracies are also discussed. (Published Abstract)